Rob Howarth

Race Tips with Rob Howarth and Futureproof Life


Rob Howarth has been coaching kayakers and multisporters for nearly 30 years! As a sponsor of The Rodney Coast Challenge he has been involved with the event for 15 years and we are delighted to have his continuing support with Futureproof Life

His multisport background also includes coaching and participation for the Kathmandu Coast to Coast (previously the Speight’s Coast to Coast). After 8 personal races Rob is now coaching an Orewa College school team with a view to competing in 2018

The Rodney Coast Challenge is a great race for individuals, teams and for experienced athletes and novices alike. With four short stages the race will take between 3 hrs 15 minutes and 6 hours, here is a breakdown of the course, transition and some tips to get you going

Forest Run 10 Km

The race starts on the beach at the end of Rimmers Road in Woodhill Forest. Registration takes place at the start, give yourself plenty of time to set up transitions (see tips). There is plenty of parking at registration

The race starts with a 250 m run up the sand dunes before turning right onto the forestry road, you will run on the flat for the first couple of Km’s then turn left and begin a steady climb through the forest. There’s is a bit of downhill! But there is plenty of steady up-hills too so make sure you train on some hills and preferably do some off road running too, this will help prepare your legs for the uneven and stony surface

TIP: Where longish socks – this will help prevent sand from getting in between your socks and feet

After 10 Km you will hit the transition area and either hop on your road bike or tag your team mate

Road Bike 30 Km

This is a great cycle stage as there is only one major hill! You start on Rimmers Road and head back to State Highway 16 and on to Helensville and Kaukapakapa. The road to Kaukapakapa is gently undulating and can be quite quick if you don’t have a headwind. On the other side of Kaukapakapa you climb for approx 3 Km before descending towards Makarau. The climb is pretty steep at the beginning and is a good workout for your legs. Once again a bit of hill training helps! Turning right off SH16 takes you on the final 2-3 Km to Makarau and the mountain bike transition

Mountain Bike 25 Km

Once again this is great riding apart from one really grunty hill – the infamous ‘Noakes Hill”!! You ride the whole way on metal roads, meandering and undulating the whole way. Be careful on the downhill corners and stay left, this is an open road. The route takes you right from Transition into Makarau Road, left into Tahekeroa Road, right into Upper Waiwera Road, left into Noakes Hill Road, right into Krippner Road, downhill to Puhoi Park for Kayak transition. Noakes Hill is just less than 3 Km long and is pretty steep!

The “Map my Ride” website puts at at a 9% climb (the RCC mapometer Map shows a 9.5% climb, and a 12.7% descent) so it’s fairly chunky! If you get a chance to head out and ride the course it is well worth it. The descent into Puhoi is steep and fast but does change into tar seal. Once again be careful on the corners, there have been accidents over the years – metal roads and skin don’t mix!

Once in transition it is a quick change or tag to your kayak

Kayak 8 Km

Only 8 Km to go so GO HARD! If you are lucky you will have an outgoing tide to assist you and depending on your kayak and fitness this leg will take you between 38 mins to 80 mins. Get into a good rhythm and try to utilise your body to assist with your paddling – feel free to phone for advice on this one if you are not sure!


  • Don’t cut corners too tight – this is where the slow shallow water will be!
  • Have a look on an on-line satellite map earth or a marine chart to see where the channel runs when the Puhoi opens out – you want to try and work the faster deeper water

Finally you hit the end of the kayak stage and have 100 m SPRINT to the finish, Congratulations!

Transition Set-up

5:30 AM – Kayak Transition opens. Drop your kayak early – place a flag or marker so your support crew can find your kayak again!

Now drive up Krippner Road following the mountain bike course in reverse. At the transition you can drop your mountain bike and any essentials, drinks food etc.

Now it is off to the Run/Bike Transition. Follow the marshal’s directions, rack your bike, shoes and any food you may need. Then you can drive down to the start and registration. Try and arrive no later than 30 min before race briefing at 7:00 AM, with a 7:15 AM Start


If your support crew knows what you want them to do before your race then things will go smoothly! Your support crew will be more stressed than you will be

The biggest factor, especially if you are in a quick team, is driving between transitions. As long as your support crew don’t hang around loading your bikes then they should have plenty of time however if you are fast on the mountain bike stage then there isn’t much room for error. Your crew cannot drive on the course so must back track to SH16 and then turn left onto Kahikatea Flat Road towards Dairy Flat and Silverdale. This route is about 45 Km so approx 40 minutes driving time

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Rob Howarth

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Sam Goodall

Kick off for my Multisport Season this year, the Rodney Coast Challenge, my first ever race, and one which I like to return to, and support as much as I can

It is always a good honest early season test, with a tough-ish 10 Km run, a testing road bike, and Mountain bike leg totaling just under 60 Kms, and an 8 Km sprint in the kayak. Personally for me at this time of the year, I don’t have any specific training, or speed work in the bank, with my focus primarily on just getting in the base miles

I flew up to Auckland Saturday night after work, leaving behind three weeks of miserable weather. Unfortunately Sunday in Christchurch was warm with sunny skies, but I was greeted by some of the heaviest rain day I have ever experienced! Bikes assembled at 11 PM, borrowed ski adjusted, and alarm set

An early start, dark, wet and windy, off to Rimmers Road to drop my Scott Foil, and down to Muriwai Beach for the start gun. It was cold, so I decided I would start in my Macpac Jacket to try and stay dry for at least part of the day. Always a tough start to the run, deep soft sand, and a decent climb up over the dunes to hit the gravel forestry roads. I settled into a pace I was comfortable with Stu and Bruce slowly heading off up the road, but was confident I could do my own thing at this stage and see them later in the day

The gap at the first transition was around 2 minutes, and I took a while to get all my nutrition stowed away, shoes and helmet on, and ditching the rain jacket. I did regret taking the Jacket off ten minutes later, it was bucketing down, thunder and lighting clapped overhead, and the wind was persistent. Again, the road bike went well for me, riding steadily, making sure I eased off for ten minutes before hitting the final climb, stay seated, keep the cadence up, then fly down the other side! I was a little surprised to not see anyone else on the ride, but there was still plenty of racing to go

Swapping the Scott Foil for the Scott Scale, fast conditions on the mountain bike, feeling pretty good, time to really push on. Nutrition was going well, GU chomps, and gels, which have been spot on for me for a few years now. I managed to catch Stu around half way through the ride, just as he headed off the wrong fork in the road, I did yell a couple of times, but Stu seemed determined to put in some more Kms! The second half of the mountain bike is the Crux of this race, three climbs, the final one being the longest and hardest. If you have raced smart, and fueled well, you make your time up here, and I managed claw some back myself, feeling very comfortable. Flew down the now sealed final decent, managed to avoid the loose gravel, and rolled into the kayak transition

Rasdex buoyancy aid, paddle, surf ski in the water, and off! The river was high and muddy, it was going to be a very fast paddle, not great for me trying to close a gap. Lots of flotsam to avoid, some coke to push me on for the final 30 minutes. I did have to stop and hop off at one stage, with a raft of sticks and leaves attached to my rudder, I felt much better after ditching that anchor! I spotted Bruce just before we rounded the final bend in sight of the finish. He was paddling well, all I could do was put my head down and empty the tank. Luckily I had enough to sneak past him 100 meters from the beach, and knowing I had an easier exit being that he was sitting in his kayak, and I was on top of my ski, knew I didn’t have to come up with a sprint finish and dive!

Sam and Bruce at the finish line

Sam and Bruce at the finish line

Pretty close racing, and a very sharp performance from Bruce, with Stu coming in not far behind, even after his extra handicap loop. To have someone of Stu’s caliber on the start line is pretty cool, a multiple World Multisport Champ, and someone who has won nearly every Multisport race in the country

Thanks go out to the Kaukapakapa Scout group for organising the race, and Rob for putting his hand up and sponsoring again under his Futureproof Life business

Cheers to my Family for helping out picking up and dropping off gear in the terrible weather all day!

Well done to everyone who battled through a tough day, and also thanks to all the other support crews and marshalls, legendary.

Thanks also to my sponsors, Macpac for providing great gear to deal with whatever weather is thrown at us

Avanti plus fleet cycles, always having my bikes ready to go, nothing is ever a hassle for the fellas!

GU NZ and HOKA One One NZ, Nutrition, and shoes, both keep me injury free, and energy filled

rasdex, Innovative kayak gear, look out for some cool new gear!

These guys are all on Facebook, check them out!

Sam Goodall

2016 Individual Male Open winner with time of 3:06:22 (split 43:53, 52:10, 55:51, 34:28) #110

2010 Individual Male Open winner with time of 3:07:12 (split 40:30, 50:10, 52:01, 44:31) #106

Sally Dymond

  1. Ride over at least the mountain bike course BEFORE RACE DAY
  2. Take plenty of fluids
  3. Paddle paddle paddle before the race!

The 2012 Rodney Coast Challenge was my first full multi-sport race. In my previous student and non-9-to-5 life I had competed in triathlon for a number of years, but hadn’t really ventured out of the tame and predictable environments triathlons are typically held it. That was until I was talked into doing a leg of an adventure race in the Coromandel for a friend’s team. The race was in absolutely horrid conditions but I was hooked! So with a little convincing, I entered the “Rodney race” and I found myself lining up for my first full race at Rodney a month later


The race seemed a pretty random sequence of events to me, starting with a run and finishing with the water discipline, and seeing as I’m not ergonomically designed to be an out-standing runner and had only paddled twice before I entered the event, I wasn’t really anticipating any stand-out performances. In fact I should probably note my race prep had been pretty relaxed.

Race note #1: definitely try and drive and ride over the mountain bike course BEFORE RACE DAY. I’m thankful I had done a lot of previous racing on my mountain and road bike, because the hill on the mountain bike leg of the race is a bit of a nasty surprise, especially on the back of two other legs

All up the race was pretty epic. The run was a shock start to the legs with the very first effort being a run up some west coast sand dunes before hurtling through 10km of scenic forestry running. Onto the road bike and things went well. If you manage to get out to some of the Sunday morning bunch rides on the back roads of the west you’ll know these roads well. As the race transitioned into the mountain bike leg it seemed like all the wind suddenly died and the sun was in full force, so it was a hot ride up the hill!

Race note #2: take plenty of fluids with you! And if you can, definitely practice your downhill mountain biking on gravel roads


The next leg in the kayak was never going to be my fastest leg, but it did kick off with an amusing start. My one man band race support crew-person Jase was ready and waiting as I headed into the kayak section. With a very scratchy entry into the kayak off the slippery river bank, I looked back to see poor Jase had taken one step too many as he pushed me off and found himself floating in the river with a very non-waterproof work phone drowning in his shorts. It didn’t take long for the more experienced kayakers to start hunting me down, and what I had hoped would feel like a quick blat in the kayak seemed to take forever

Which brings me to my final race note #3: paddle paddle paddle before the race! And definitely find your comfy position, it’s a long day in the boat if you get a sore back and things don’t feel rightOverall the Rodney Coast Challenge was a great day out, finishing in the stunning scenic beauty of Wenderholm Park, and every competitor seemed to be a good sort willing to spin a yarn out on the course and offer words of encouragement

If you can, pack some cold ones and a picnic for after the race and chill out in the park and say cheers to all the awesome people who put the race together. Thanks Rodney Coast Challenge team!

Sally Dymond

3rd in Open Female class with final time of 4:02:10, forth fastest female, 31st overall

2012 Open Female placed 3rd with a time of 4:02:10 (split 0:53:23, 0:59:19, 1:15:00, 0:54:28) #106

Catherine Houten

My name is Catherine (Cathy) Houten. I am 14 years old and live in Kaukapakapa. I first started at Kaukapakapa Scouts when I was ten, and found out about the Rodney Coast Challenge. The following year, when I was 11, I was entered in a team with my Dad’s work mates and did the mountain bike leg. The year after I did the road bike for them and last year the mountain bike


This year I had a shot at the race as an individual. I have run a few half marathons. I started running six months ago and have knocked off three half marathons since then with a personal best of one hour forty eight minutes. So my fitness was a lot better than in previous years. At the beginning of the 10km run, there is a sand dune. I sprinted up a bit too quick, ran out of energy and started to get cramp. I was then forced to walk a few kilometers. After the first drink station, I was back in shape and finished the running stage with a time of 53.35. This was a bit disappointing

With the help of my excellent support crew I quickly changed from my running mode to my cycling mode. The road bike was the easiest stage for me. The road works at Punganui Bridge were an obstacle. There were traffic marshals and I arrived on the end of a tail. I was told to stop, but not wanting to waste any precious minutes waiting for the light to turn green again, I sprinted up and met up with the group on the other side of the bridge, leaving some pretty annoyed cyclists behind me as I sailed over the hill

The mountain bike was my slowest stage even though I’ve done it a hundred times in practice and twice previously in the actual race. I was going well until the very last hill, the dreaded Noakes Hill climb. I was greeted by a very sweet fellow competitor congratulating me in my efforts and feeling slightly cocky I went to change quickly into my highest sprocket for the decent and the chain jumped off, leaving me looking rather silly as I stood my bike upside down to fix it. This wasted a few precious minutes

The kayak transition was a rather leisurely affair, coated in sunscreen by my grandma and fed by my Dad, and putting about 2kg of mud in the bottom of my Kayak or “plastic barge” as my dad calls it. I was feeling quite lethargic; I sat in the boat and let the tide take me with it. The kayak for me was quite relaxing; it was really quiet and peaceful, until I was overtaken by some fit person in a 12kg multisport kayak. I just paddled away, not worrying too much about my time and just relaxing and just making sure I was moving. That’s why I was so fresh and cheerful at the finish. When I did eventually make it to the finish, I completely forgot about running. I was standing looking around with all my supporters yelling at me to run. I was a bit wobbly but I ran to the line and over the mat

My final time was 4:36:26 so I have something to work on for next year. This is such a cool event to do; I will be doing it a few times yet, quite a social event. Gets everyone talking and off the couch. It’s quite fun, not huge long distances so it suits all ages and abilities

Race your mates, have competitions against your colleagues and bring in a few laughs and inside jokes

Catherine Houten

2010 Individual Female Junior (13-18) placed 2nd with a time of 4:36:26 (split 53:35, 1:06:29, 1:26:30, 1:09:52) #800

James Kuegler


Thank-you to Canoe & Kayak North Shore for the entry to the Rodney Coast Challenge on November 14th. Having decided not to run the Auckland Marathon I thought it would be a good opportunity to compete in another multisport race

The format of the race is a 10km Run, 30km Road Bike, 24km Mountain Bike, & 8km Kayak: an interesting format with a particularly small amount of running

I firmly believe that I need to test myself continually against quality athletes, so upon arriving at registration I was pleased to see that Grant Donoghue, Bryce Irving, Sam Goodall and Steve McKinstry would all be lining up in the individual race

Within a couple of minutes of the start a group of four consisting of David Cooper, Graham Moore (both team runners), McKinstry and myself had formed, and we were working hard to build a gap on the rest of the field I put a bit of a surge on with 500m to go and managed to gap the group crossing the timing mat in a shade under 38 minutes. As far as I can work out this is the third fastest time recorded in the recorded history of the race

I had hoped that the two team riders might be of some assistance, though unfortunately I was riding on my own, or with a team rider sitting on my wheel for the majority of the ride. By the Road Bike to Mountain Bike Transition I was sitting in second place overall, a couple of minutes down on McKinstry and becoming increasingly conscious of those chasing me from behind

I found it difficult to get into any sort of rhythm on the mountain bike, and the heat was starting to get to me too. Team ‘Not All Old Men’, Sam Goodall, aero helmet and all, and Bryce Irving all came flying past me. I managed to stay with Irving just long enough to see him get it horribly wrong on the entry to a particularly nasty corner. How he managed to control his bike as he slid uncontrollably, with feet un-clipped still puzzles me

Kayaking has been a focus of late, and I thought I paddled really well, I even seemed to be catching the far-off figure of Irving in the distance

I finished 6th overall and was the 4th individual across the line in a time of 3:22:01


James Kuegler
Athlete, Coach, Chiropractic Student

2010 Individual Male Open placed 4th with a time of 3:22:01 (split 37:53, 51:49, 1:03:04, 49:15) #109